|The Ha Noi's calligraphy event is officially opened for Tet yesterday inside the Van Mieu–Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature). — VNS Photo Truong Vi
HA NOI (VNS) — A few days before the Lunar New Year (Tet), the streets in Ha Noi have become much more animated as local inhabitants are busy preparing for the celebrations of the important festival.
The sunshine came back to the city after several cold, rainy days, warming and cleaning the streets. The clement weather cheered up locals, who are now rushing to markets and shops to buy ingredients to cook traditional dishes, and ornamental trees to decorate houses.
Many students go home as Tet vacation arrives.
Vendors from different regions come to Ha Noi to sell ornamental trees and other goods.
The stream of people moving around the city's streets during these days has caused traffic jams on the main streets of the capital, even during non-rush hours.
Despite the global economic downturn, families have been preparing excitedly for Tet holiday, which lasts from February 7 to 14 this year.
Many families have been too busy to make banh chung (square cake) or other traditional dishes that take a lot of time. Many now prefer to buy ready-made dishes. But others still prefer cooking traditional dishes with their families.
Instead of spending so much time finding places where she can buy good banh chung like last year, Tran Ngoc Xuan from Ha Dong ward of Ha Noi and her neighbours decided to make the cake together.
"When we gather to make the cake, I'll enjoy the joyful ambience of Tet all the more," she said.
"When I was a child, I loved the ambience during the preparation for Tet. When I was studying abroad in Italy, I missed many Vietnamese dishes, as there were no Asian supermarkets where I lived. And I learned to make banh chung by myself. When Tet arrived, I celebrated Tet with my friends, each person contributing a dish they made themselves. When I returned home, even though I am very busy, I always want to cook traditional dishes. I also want to teach my children do that, so as they can understand better the meaning of this big festival where family members can gather," she said.
Aside from crowded traditional markets, online shops also attract a large number of customers. Many shoppers have switched to ordering gifts online.
As the new year approaches, shoppers are increasingly turning to online gift delivery services.
Supermarkets and shops are busy as demand for gifts increases and the economy sees signs of recovery. Outlets have been serving both on-the-spot customers and those who have turned to online shopping.
The gifts include a variety of traditional products such as dried fruits, candies and alcohol, as well as modern products like electronic goods and many kinds of ornamental trees.
Ha Noi has hosted a wide range of activities to welcome the Lunar New Year.
The capital's calligraphy street opened yesterday and will close on February 15.
Around 110 calligraphers gathered in 110 tents inside Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature) in Ha Noi for the holiday.
The calligraphers wear traditional costumes, writing and selling beautiful words in calligraphy.
At the same venue, an exhibition featuring 100 works by famous calligraphers will be held.
Buying calligraphic works is one of the indispensable Vietnamese New Year traditions believed to bring purchasers good luck and prosperity.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel is also hosting a spring festival until this Friday.
The highlight of the event is an exhibition featuring the traditional space of the ancient Lunar New Year festival with gifts, pictures, costumes and a worshipping space for Tet, as well as the custom of asking ong do (Confucian teacher) to write calligraphic letters at the beginning of the year.
Organised by the Thang Long-Ha Noi Heritage Conservation Centre, the festival also includes exhibitions on Vietnamese history, flowers, ornamental trees and new archaeological findings.
On the occasion, the centre will share information about traditional Lunar New Year customs. Artists from traditional craft villages have been invited to display Dong Ho paintings and banh chung making skills.
Music and puppetry performances have been held alongside an incense offering in honour of the country's founders. — VNS